Editorial: Graduates overcame adversity to succeed | Editorials

The coronavirus pandemic hovered over our heads throughout the school year, bringing disruption, delays and the risk of illness.

But students across northwestern Lower Michigan marched ahead, studying in school buildings if possible, at home if necessary. Everyone trotted, jumped and crawled through the obstacle course known as COVID-19. With varying degrees of effort and effort, individuals achieved their goal of learning enough to move forward.

The year was perhaps the most challenging for seniors. The final year of high school represents discerning academics, one last hurray for some friendships, a stepping stone to growing up.

Ideally, the senior year of high school provides a solid foundation for teens to develop a mature world view and discover who they are and what they want to do with their adult lives.

The senior year is not the end. Far from it – we learn all our lives, adapt, keep marching on. But this stable platform of secondary education generally acts as a sturdy concrete launch pad for predictable daily learning that enables teenagers to begin the next leg of their journey.

This platform was anything but stable in the COVID year.

This year’s seniors were served a raw deal. In addition to school work, social challenges and the normal fear of growing up, they faced an entire school year with unpredictable timetables, restricted sports, interrupted extracurricular activities, canceled social events and the constant risk that their parents, grandparents could get sick, teachers or friends.

Every high school graduate has juggled lessons and life as best they can last year. Every single graduate has grappled with things that seniors don’t face in most years.

For most students, the year of the coronavirus was a big detour from normal life. For some, the pandemic was just a bump on an already rocky road.

The record-breaking eagle highlighted several graduates last week who faced major personal challenges.

Chyenne Igunbor, who just graduated from Traverse City Central High School, grew up in a household that faced financial difficulties. She received a scholarship from the University of Michigan that paid her tuition for four years. She will be the first in her family to attend four year college.

Xavier Hack graduated from Traverse City West Senior High School. He falls on the autism spectrum, and bright lights and loud noises tend to temporarily lose his composure. He rose to the challenge directly by acting in high school theater. He hopes to become a primary school teacher.

Blessing Ovie’s graduation from Traverse City High School marked a turning point in her previous life experiences. She fled Nigeria without parents at the age of 9 and then began a life in Morocco for eight years with no school and no one to rely on.

At the age of 17, she arrived in Traverse City as an unaccompanied refugee minor who had just learned of her pregnancy. Her child, now 2 years old, turned out to be a healing lifeline for Ovie, who wants to become a physiotherapist.

These are gripping stories of personal triumphs.

Other graduates’ stories may not be as dramatic as these three. But every high school graduate should be proud that despite the learning barriers created by the pandemic, they were able to pull through their senior year of high school.

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